The national gun-carry reciprocity bill will enter the next phase of the lawmaking process on Wednesday when it enters markup in the House.
The House Judiciary Committee announced on Monday it will mark up the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. The bill would require states to acknowledge the legality of each other's gun-carry permits. Under the bill, those with a valid gun-carry permit issued by any state and a valid government-issued photo ID would be able to carry a concealed gun in any state so long as they abide by that state's laws on when and where gun carry is allowed.
The bill would nationalize gun-carry reciprocity, making it simpler for those who wish to legally carry a gun across state lines. Currently, each state decides which other states' permits to honor. Some states, like Virginia, recognize all other states' permits. Some states, like New Jersey, don't recognize any other states' permits. The majority of states fall somewhere in between.
"For me and the vast majority of Americans who support concealed-carry reciprocity, this is welcome progress," Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), who introduced the bill, said in a statement. "I want to thank Chairman Bob Goodlatte for his strong leadership to protect our Second Amendment rights. I will continue to work with my colleagues and President Trump to pass this common-sense legislation to protect law-abiding citizens."
Hudson pointed to the plight of Shaneen Allen as an example of why the legislation was necessary. Allen was arrested in New Jersey in 2013 for illegally carrying a firearm despite being licensed to carry a firearm in her home state of Pennsylvania. Allen, a single mother of two from Philadelphia, obtained a Pennsylvania gun-carry permit after being robbed twice in the same year but claims she was never informed that her permit wasn't valid just across the Delaware River in New Jersey. So, until she was stopped by a police officer in New Jersey while on her way to a birthday party for one of her sons, she didn't realize her permit wasn't valid there and her legally obtained firearm, which she was licensed to carry in her home state, could cost her years in prison.
Gov. Chris Christie (R., N.J.) eventually pardoned Allen but not before she spent 40 days in jail and lost her job. She has since become a public advocate for a national reciprocity law.
Rep. Hudson's office reiterated the claim that the bill would apply equally to those with resident permits, those with nonresident permits, and those who live in states that don't require a permit to carry a firearm. Tatum Gibson, a Hudson spokesperson, said the congressman's comments to the Washington Free Beacon earlier this year were "still accurate." In January, Hudson responded to questions about nonresident permits by saying he intended for the bill to include them.
"My legislative intent is to ensure a nonresident carry permit is recognized, and I've confirmed this with legislative counsel and Judiciary Committee staff," Hudson told the Free Beacon at the time.
Gun-control groups have universally opposed the measure as encouraging concealed gun carry and undermining strict gun-carry laws currently on the books in some states.
The National Rifle Association, on the other hand, has made national reciprocity its top issue of 2017 and promised during its annual meeting in May it would eventually get the policy passed into law. "Our number-one legislative priority remains right-to-carry reciprocity," Chris Cox, head of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, told the Free Beacon at the time.